Habitat protection is part of NPR-A management

Friday’s editorial (Having it both ways when the message is ‘no way,’ Feb 22, 2013) on protection of lands within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska ignores — as so much media coverage has — the fact that the NPR-A was not set aside exclusively for oil. Congress in 1976 put the federal Bureau of Land Management in charge of the reserve, and directed BLM to identify and protect special habitat within it.

That is why the final management plan is generally supported by the conservation community, and why The Wilderness Society endorsed it as a balanced approach that meets the needs of supplying energy while protecting America’s public lands. The plan allows access to more than 70 percent of the reserve’s economically recoverable oil, and responds to 30 resolutions passed by Alaska Native communities that supported protection of important caribou habitat. Sportsmen who want to sustain the reserve’s outdoor opportunities also support the plan.

To claim that the Obama administration is treating Alaska as a petting zoo is disrespectful to the millions of Americans who support rational, science-based management of the nation’s largest tract of public land.

Nicole Whittington-Evans

Alaska Regional Director

The Wilderness Society

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